Nicholas Carr embraces Cloud Computing in his Latest Publication

Published: 23rd August 2011
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In the end, the best way to understand the import of cloud computing is through the disruptive innovation framework laid out by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma. Drawing on a breadth of research into technological advances, Christensen demonstrated that upheavals tend to follow a pattern. In its early stages, a disruptive technology is characterized by relatively weak performance, which restricts its adoption to companies or individuals with limited cash, low performance requirements, or both. But the performance of the disruptive technology advances quickly, making it attractive to an ever broader set of users. Eventually, the disruptive technology is able to fulfill the needs of even the most sophisticated and demanding users, at which point it becomes the dominant technology in the marketplace. Cloud computing is advancing up the performance curve just as Christensen‘s framework predicts, and it seems only a matter of time before it becomes the IT model of choice not only for individuals and small companies but for the largest corporations.

Beyond the technological changes, the advance of the cloud will mean a realignment of the IT work force, with some jobs disappearing, some shifting from users to suppliers, and others becoming more prominent. On the supplier side, we‘ll likely see booming demand for the skills required to design and run reliable large scale, multi-tenant computing plants. Expertise in parallel processing, virtualization, energy management and cooling, security and encryption, high-speed networking and data caching, and related fields will be coveted and rewarded. Much software will also need to be written or rewritten to run efficiently on the new infrastructure. In a clear sign of the new labor requirements, Google and IBM have teamed up to spearhead a major education initiative aimed at training university students to write programs for cloud systems.

On the user side, as the transition to the utility model accelerates in the years to come, we‘ll likely to see a steady decline in jobs related to building and maintaining in-house computer systems, while skills in information management and process design and automation will remain highly valued. We may see as well the rise of a new kind of IT professional a services broker who serves as the interface between cloud services and business units, crafting a flexible portfolio of IT services to meet business needs. The most aggressive adopters of cloud computing have already experienced a change in the makeup of their IT departments. The size of those departments is shrinking, but the positions that remain tend to be the more senior, more strategic ones.

For years, the knock on corporate IT has been that it is out of sync with business needs that there is, as the cliché goes, a lack of alignment between the IT department and the business units. The weak alignment, it can now be seen, was a symptom of the isolation that up until recently served as the foundational assumption of corporate IT isolated infrastructure, isolated applications, isolated data, and, all too often, isolated users. This assumption of isolation conflicted with the assumption of sharing that underpins business itself. (The reason business organizations exist is to allow collaboration among employees.) By for the first time making sharing the underlying assumption of IT, the cloud promises to finally bring IT and business into alignment at least for those companies that embrace the cloud‘s promise.

CIOs recognize this opportunity, and they‘re embracing it. In fact, the single most surprising development in cloud computing over the past three years has been the 180 degree change in the attitudes of forward looking CIOs. Far from seeing the cloud as a threat, as many originally did, they now view utility style computing as an opportunity to strengthen their own roles in their companies by shedding or outsourcing non strategic activities and focusing their efforts on core business tasks. Early in 2011, I attended a panel discussion on cloud computing involving a group of prominent CIOs in Silicon Valley. They were unanimous in their sense that, as one of them put it, the cloud was making the CIO position more relevant than ever. CIOs aren‘t buying all the current hype about the cloud they‘re a skeptical bunch but they now view cloud computing as essential to the future of their companies and their careers.

We‘re at the dawn of a new era in business. Just as the last century‘s electric utilities spurred the development of thousands of new consumer appliances and services, so the new computing utilities will shake up many markets and open myriad opportunities for innovation. We see this transformation playing out not just in IT departments and the IT industry but across information intensive industries like media and entertainment. Harnessing the power of the electric grid was the great enterprise of the twentieth century. Harnessing the power of the cloud is shaping up to be the great enterprise of the twenty first century.

An Excerpt from the Afterword
To read entire Afterword, visit

About Nicholas G. Carr
Nicholas Carr (aka Nick) writes about technology, culture, and economics. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. For more information visit cloudsrollin

HCL Technologies Infrastructure Services Division, also known as HCL ISD, falls in the category of the 4 percent American new public companies that have crossed, or are set to cross, the one billion revenue mark in the first 10 years of their inception.
For more information, please visit HCLISD

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